Commercial trucks pose significant risks of severe damages and injuries to other drivers and pedestrians sharing or near the roadway. Due to these risks, several state and federal regulations exist to monitor large semis and the trucking industry.
When a driver, company, or other party responsible for a big rig fails to comply with the trucking laws in Indiana, they may be liable for the damages suffered by an injured individual in an accident. A knowledgeable trucking law lawyer understands the dangers of a truck that fails to comply with state and federal regulations.
Restrictions on a Tractor-Trailer’s Size and Weight
State law requires semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles to follow certain size and weight restrictions before traveling on state roadways. State law sets a weight limit on the total weight of a commercial truck as well as the weight of its wheels, single axle, tandem axle, and tri-axle. For instance, the total weight limit of a commercial truck cannot exceed 80,000 pounds, according to Indiana Code § 9-20-4-1.
Additionally, large trucks must comply with size restrictions to safely operate on state roadways. The common size restrictions under state law relate to the width of a commercial truck, the truck’s height, and the truck’s length. A seasoned trucking law attorney understands the specific restrictions on a truck’s size and weight to be permitted to travel throughout the state.
Requirements for Commercial Vehicle Drivers
For a person to operate a commercial truck, they must first have the required qualifications, experience, and licenses. Specifically, a trucker must obtain and carry a valid Commercial Driver’s License to be permitted to drive a semi-truck. To obtain a valid license, Federal law requires an individual to meet the following:
- Acquire a commercial learners permit
- Possess the permit for a period of 14 days
- Pass the truck inspection test, basic vehicle controls test, and driving test
During the licensing process, the federal government will conduct a thorough check of the applicant trucker’s driving record in all states. Furthermore, truck companies also conduct thorough backgrounds checks on commercial drivers before hiring them and allowing them to operate their vehicles.
Rules for Time on the Road
A common cause of truck collisions is driver fatigue because 18-wheeler operators often drive for long hours to meet their deadlines. To help reduce the chances of fatigued truck drivers, federal regulations impose strict rules on the hours a driver is permitted to operate a tractor-trailer. Specifically, commercial truckers must comply with the following rules:
- Operate a truck for a maximum of 11 hours after being off duty for ten consecutive hours
- Not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty after being off duty for ten consecutive hours
- Taking at least a 30-minute break after driving for eight consecutive hours without an off-duty 30-minute break
- Must take at least a 34-hour off-duty period after driving for 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days
Hour restrictions are important to maintaining safe truck operations. When truckers fail to comply with the mandated travel hours, they could cause severe injuries to other motorists, pedestrians, or bicyclists nearby.
How Could a Trucking Law Attorney Help?
If a truck operator or other party fails to comply with the state and federal laws put in place to protect others, they can cause catastrophic, if not fatal, accidents. If you or a close loved one suffered severe injuries and losses due to a commercial vehicle accident, you typically need to prove another party’s negligence to recover compensation. An experienced lawyer could help fight for your legal rights. Schedule a consultation with our accomplished team today.